Every year, I get the list of East-West Shrine prospects and go through each one for a 15-30 minute tape and initial data scouting session. I then slap an initial (school) grade reaction on each prospect and write a few lines about my first reaction to my preview study on them – to publish during East-West Shrine week to get ready for the E-W practice week and game.
I’ll get a better feel for these players after we get their Combine and/or Pro Day numbers and run our scouting analytics and do deeper research on some of them, but for now he’s a first reaction preview of the players going into their East-West week (ranked by lowest-to-highest initial reaction grades)…
DE Tershawn Wharton, Missouri S&T (6’1”/280) *Early Preview Grade: D-
Unimpressed with this undersized DT prospect from the lower levels of college play. Wasn’t all that dominant statistically, and his tape is ‘meh’. Looked like he’s a little lazy…gives up on plays too soon after his initial burst too many times. I didn’t see anything exciting here.
DT Carlos Davis, Nebraska (6’2”/312) *Early Preview Grade: D
Played a lot of middle/NT for NU from what I watched. Was just taking up space, no real pop or playmaking ability flashed. Was eaten up by Wisconsin blocking.
DT Auzoyah Alufohai, West Georgia (6’4”/325) *Early Preview Grade: D
Has NFL size, but was a low impact player at the lower college levels of competition – 2.0 sacks and 4.0 TFLs last season. He looks very slow and plays with his head down and pushes and doesn’t make plays. He’s a space clogger. Looks like an offensive guard vs. a defensive tackle.
ILB Michael Divinity, LSU (6’2”/241) *Early Preview Grade: D
I don’t see it. Last two seasons (17 games), 0-2 solo tackles in 13 of those 17 games. Just 3 or more solo tackles in a game 4 times in 17 games. No, thanks. Not a real NFL prospect in my book. Just kinda drifts around and makes a run blitz, sneak attack pass rush and gets a sack/TFL now and then but he’s not a legit patroller of the middle that will help an NFL team. Left the team mid-2019 season due to grades. Did get his grades back up and graduated and rejoined the team for the CFM title game. Nice story, weak NFL prospect.
DE Austin Edwards, Ferris State (6’3”/280) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Hard to read because of the level of competition, but in my brief looks…he wasn’t dominating this lower level of play. He was good but nowhere near great. He’s quick/fast for 280-pounds, but I’m not sure he’s 280. He may be in the 260s, and then he’s an even worse projected prospect for the pros. I need to see more here but not in love with first glance. Ferris State unofficial measurables/info from the sports department is often too ‘favorable’ to their players.
DE La’Darius Hamilton, No. Texas (6’3”/260) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Aggressive, high energy 4-3 DE. Had a solid career at UNT but nothing special. Doesn’t appear to have NFL movement/speed/quickness skills to be an impact NFL player. Could be a solid warm body backup.
DE Kendall Coleman, Syracuse (6’3”/253) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Solid college 4-3 DE…had a 10.0 sack season on 2018 (12 games), including a 2.0 sack game against Clemson. Fell to 4.0 sacks in 2019 (12 games). Looks like a basic good/OK athlete off the edge and has some skill getting to the QB – but doesn’t show NFL ‘wow’ abilities or any special size, etc.
DE Michael Danna, Michigan (6’2”/261) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Transferred from C. Michigan, after a solid three seasons there. Was ‘meh’ for Michigan in his one season (2019). Seems a bit undersized…might be under 250 pounds vs. the listed 260+. Good effort, some abilities, the size and activity didn’t strike me as an NFL D-Lineman.
DT Raequan Williams, Michigan State (6’4”/301) *Early Preview Grade: D+
A big dude that clogs up the middle, but not much more than that. He’s tough. Gives good effort, but no real ‘pop’ in his game for the next level. Might make it as a hole-clogger but not as an impact player.
OLB Cam Gill, Wagner (6’2”/240) *Early Preview Grade: D+
20 TFLs/9.5 sacks in 2019 season…not bad. Looks like a pretty fluid athlete as OLB, but fully hard to tell playing at the FCS level. It looked like he was just quicker than most opponents and made plays, but it was not like ‘whoa’ watching him play. Just that he was pretty good for his level of play. The East-West game will give him the chance to move up the grading. My first read…nothing too special.
ILB John Houston, USC (6’3”/220) *Early Preview Grade: D+
He’ll have to move positions to SAF or spend time bulking his body up for the NFL. He looks like a WR playing ILB at USC. He’s isn’t bad. He’s smart. Gives effort. I just never saw any ‘wow’ factor. If he tests with good speed/agility he might have a chance as a SAF/OLB hybrid maybe and a special teamer. He has some NFL hope, I just don’t believe he’s an impact player…but switching positions could unlock more. I’d bet against it at first glance.
DE Bryce Sterk, Montana State (6’4”/257) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Former Washington Cougar backup for two years, went to Montana State and got into the starting lineup and had a breakout 2019 with 15.0 sacks and 19.0 TFLs. He looks a little like a WR/TE playing 4-3 DE. He has some speed and movement skills, but a weaker upper body allows him to get blocked away too easily. He can out-nimble blockers in FCS, but I don’t know that he can in this all-star showcase. I’m open to changing my grades here.
ILB Dante Olson, Montana (6’3”/241) *Early Preview Grade: D+/C-
2019 FCS Defensive Player of the Year…179 tackles in 14 games. He’s an old school, try-hard middle linebacker. He form-tackles well. He plays dialed up to ‘10’ all the time. But he isn’t anything special as an athlete. His 179 tackles were a little fluffy…103 of them were assisted tackles, favorable stat scoring (potentially). He’s good and might have an NFL career in him but I want to see how he does here in the East-West game. I don’t think he can hang with the elevated competition to be a high draft prospect.
DT John Penisini, Utah (6’2”/333) *Early Preview Grade: C-/D+
Slow off the snap but strong as an ox. Holds up the 4-3 DT interior pretty well/isn’t easy to block out of a play. He’s not going to make plays/wreak havoc, but he will give you a strong body plugging up the middle.
DT Khalil Davis, Nebraska (6’1”/305) *Early Preview Grade: D+/C-
The better of the two ‘Davis’s’ on Nebraska’s front line. Khalil is the superior prospect. Watching them against Wisconsin – Carlos Davis was getting shoved around, whereas Khalil Davis was more holding his own against the big Badgers’ line. Davis looks like a solid space eater 4-3 DT prospect.
DE Derrek Tuszka, No. Dakota State (6’5”/246) *Early Preview Grade: C-
Really nice footwork for a 6’4”+/245+ DE prospect. There are some raw tools here to work with as a 4-3 DE pass rusher. Can drop into coverage as well. I’d like to see his measurables to confirm but he appears to have NFL speed/agility on tape. 12.5 sacks/17.5 TFLs in 2019.
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern (6’4”/267) *Early Preview Grade: C
Aggressive, solid 4-3 DE pass rusher. Good technique. High motor/ great effort every play. 49 tackles, 17 TFLs, 9.0 sacks in 2019 (12 games). #7 all-time in career TFLs in (the new) Big Ten history (since 2005). He looks like a legit NFL prospect but not an obvious star prospect/projection.
DT McTelvin Agim, Arkansas (6’3”/300) *Early Preview Grade: C+
One of those DT prospects that is listed at around 300-pounds but looks like 260 and wears a low uniform number (he’s #3), and he just stands out as this ‘flash’/very quick interior linemen that wreaks havoc. Had registered at least 0.5 TFLs in 16 of 20 games in a stretch during his junior-senior seasons. If Agim is 290+ pounds, for real…then he might be a ‘B’ prospect. He just doesn’t look like it at a glance…and if he’s 260-270 prospect, then he might be more of a ‘D+’, a ‘tweener’.
DE James Smith-Williams, NC State (6’3”/265) *Early Preview Grade: C+
At first glance, he looks like an ‘A’ grade 4-3 DE pass rush monster…but he has some great pass rush moments surrounded by a lot of nothing. Inconsistent and injured on and off his whole career. In 2018, he played 11 games and had 9.0 TFLs/6.0 sacks as his best season…only season he played more than 6 games. There is a legit NFL athlete/prospect here but there are red flags to go with it.
NT Bravvion Roy, Baylor (6’1”/333) *Early Preview Grade: C+
A mass of humanity up the middle. Looks Damata Peko, the long-time Bengals DT. Roy is a huge body DT/NT who just clogs the middle and was often doubled in blocking in games. He has some NFL value.
DE/DT Garrett Marino, UAB (6’2”/290) *Early Preview Grade: B-
Strong as a bull and great bounce in step – if he’s really 290 pounds, he might be a B+/A- prospect. Drives blockers back, high energy every play, so quick moving around. He needs one good year of serious weight training and he might be a monster. 12.5 TFLs/6.5 sacks/7 PDs in 2019 (14 games) as a DT/NT/DE.
DE/OLB Alex Highsmith, Charlotte (6’4”/242) *Early Preview Grade: B-
The only legit NFL D-Line prospect here, in my book. Reminds me of a smaller Maxx Crosby. Great pop off the snap. Quick to shed blockers and close in on ballcarriers. 21.5 TFLs and 15.0 sacks in 13 games in 2019 season. He really came into his own as a senior. Look like he could be a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB maybe. He just has a different gear, ability, energy off the edge than any of these other East-West prospects. The first time I said ‘wow’ through watching 40%+ of the defensive prospects listed for this game, so far.
DE Bryce Huff, Memphis (6’3”/255) *Early Preview Grade: B/B-
After I watched Alex Highsmith, then it was Huff in my alphabetical list…and I had another ‘wow’. Huff has NFL burst. He can go from standstill to on the QB in a split second. He does a great job of negotiating blocks until it’s time to strike like a cobra. He looks like a 3-4 OLB…and I have him graded higher because I see some conversion to ILB potential here. Really like this tape. Had 19.0 TFLs/9.5 sacks in 2018 (14 games), followed that with 15.5 TFLs/6.5 sacks in 2019 (14 games).